Foods rich in iron are an important part of a healthy diet for people of all ages, beginning with the first solid foods that we feed to infants. While obviously being careful about allergy risks and choking hazards, including these items in children’s diets from early on can help them to develop life-long healthy eating habits.
Iron is less well-absorbed when eaten at the same time as calcium, so separate these foods from intake of milk or other dairy foods for the best absorption of iron.
Iron from animal sources is more easily absorbed than iron from plant sources, so people who are vegetarian or vegan will need to eat more of the plant-based iron rich foods.
Here’s a good, full list to get you started…
- Beans & lentils
- Soybeans & tofu
- Seafood, especially mollusks (clams, mussels, oysters, scallops)
- Salmon, tuna, sardines
- Liver: chicken, pork, turkey, lamb, beef (small cubes of liverwurst are actually great finger foods for babies, who often gobble them down, even though most adults’ first reaction is, “Yuk!”)
- Lean red meat – especially beef & lamb
- Nuts & seeds – especially squash & pumpkin seeds, almonds, cashews, peanuts, pine nuts, & hazelnuts
- Nut & seed butters count too!
- Whole grains & iron-fortified cereals
- Dark green leafy vegetables: spinach, kale, chard
- Broccoli, peas, asparagus
- Olives, mushrooms
- Dried fruits: apricots, raisins, prunes, currants, figs
- And, just for fun: dark chocolate and real maple syrup!
Dr. Sarah Springer, a shareholder in the practice, is the Medical Director of Adoption Health Services of Western Pennsylvania.